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1 Mar 2010

Daring Bakers at travel

Challenges, the life of a foodie are full of them; even more if you are a blogger. We apostrophize ourselves as Daring and caring. Being it savory or sweet, we meet up each month in two occasions to share the results on a chosen challenge.
The sweet challenge that us, Daring Bakers (DBs), have been presented with this month was Tiramisu. Thanks to this choice, we were able to make an ideal travel starting from India, reaching USA with a little touch of Italy.
The hostesses for the monthly DBs’ challenge were the lovely Aparna and Deeba from the colorful India. They chose the recipe for Tiramisu proposed by pastry chef Carminantonio Iannaccone. Major part of the challenge was the making of mascarpone and ladyfingers biscuits from scratch. Frankly speaking, this was not the hardest part of the challenge; the recipe itself was quite long to finish. The entire process took a whole of 3 days with 2 days dedicated strictly on the tiramisu cake.
Have you ever tried to make this Italian dessert? I am sure though that you have tasted it: soft, spongy biscuits soaked in strong coffee and layered with a fluffy and delicate mascarpone and egg cream; a dusting of cocoa powder crowns it all.
It is not a really difficult cake to make and it is always a great success with guests.
Here there is the recipe we were asked to follow.

(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings
For the zabaglione:
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
  • 1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
  • 1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
For the vanilla pastry cream:
  • 1/4 cup/55gms sugar
  • 1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup/175ml whole milk
For the whipped cream:
  • 1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
  • 1/4 cup/55gms sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
To assemble the tiramisu:
  • 2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup/110gms sugar
  • 1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
  • 36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
  • 2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder
For the zabaglione 1:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.
To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.
Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.

My impressions on this recipe? It is far too complicated without apparent reason, from my point of view.
In particular it asks us to prepare the mascarpone cream in 4 separate steps: the zabaglione, the pastry cream, the whipped cream and then to combine the whole with the mascarpone in the final cream. Normally, we would do it by whipping the egg yolks with some sugar and separately the egg whites. The yolks are then combined with the softened mascarpone and then the egg whites are folded in.
Done this way, the cream comes out velvety and rich with a delicate yolk taste; a perfect match with the strong coffee soaking the ladyfinger biscuits (by the way, I do NOT like any alcohol in my tiramisu and I barely tolerate coffee in the cream). If you are concerned about raw eggs, you may whip the yolks over a double boiler making a sort of zabaione and a beat the egg-whites into a swiss meringue.

The hardest part of the recipe was actually the presentation. Not easy to come up with an interesting plating. Since I wend for round, muffin-like ladyfinger biscuits my tiramisu will be like a little cake. What to decorate it with? Chocolate naturally, plastic chocolate. What is this? Remember when as a kid we were use to play with Play-Doh or similar dough? Plastic chocolate is just alike, only that you can eat it and it is delicious! Read here how to do it.
A rolling pin, a muffin tin and a knife made the trick (with some flower thrown in too).

1 Another point about this recipe is more on a terminology base. What it is called a zabaglione, it is not a zabaglione at all since to make it the egg yolks are whipped over a double boiler, with the sugar and liquor until stiff and cooked.
What the recipe calls for will produce a custard.


  1. I can see why you said you had so many DB posts to write up! :)
    Love the presentation. Never knew about making plastic chocolate. Think I shall try this out.
    Thanks for baking with us.

  2. The cute lil Tiramisu "cakes" look wonderful.Liked your plastic chocolate:).I am really not sure if Zabaglione is not a ZAbaglione,as i came across it only in DBC.Thanks for visiting my blog:)

  3. Nice presentation! The plastic chocolate rose looks amazing :)

  4. @Aparna It is a very easy and versatile creation, worth doing it!
    @NINA Thanks for making me notice that I forgot to link a proper definition of zabaglione :-)
    @chef_d Thanks a lot :-))

    Thanks all for popping by!

  5. At least you are creative in your presentation. I just went the straight forward way. Yes like you, I prefer the simpler version of egg yolk n whites. :) Btw: I just realised why my tiramisu isn't as sweet - I used 180 g of mascarpone instead of 75 g. :p

  6. It was quite a marathon this month wasn't it?! I felt like I'd done the equivalent of 3-4 posts and I see you have broken yours down into separate posts which is a very good idea.

    I like your decoration about the edge. Were you inspired by Deeba?

    Thankfully next month sounds easier!